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Writing Good Case Studies

Most people love a good story. The best ones include a problem that needs to be solved, as well as a quest for a solution to that problem. Once the right solution is found and implemented, we are rewarded with a happy ending.

In the business world, these types of stories are called case studies. Using this story format is a great way to communicate your company's value proposition to your web site visitors in a credible, easily digestible way.

Why Write Case Studies?

Let's say you've done all of the right things when it comes to creating content for your web site: you have included lots of good, helpful information for your visitors that is easily accessible and tells them everything they need to know about which products and services you offer, how you're different from your competitors, and how you can be reached.

But there's still something missing. Perhaps you look over your content and realize that everything you're telling your visitors only comes from one source: you. If that's the case, all of the wonderful things you have said about what your company offers may not sound as convincing as you'd like.

You may have a Testimonials page, which includes a few lines from select customers about what you've done for them. But those testimonials usually don't tell the full story, so they may not be enough for those customers who are looking for more in-depth information and examples to help them make a decision.

If you're looking to communicate information about your business in a compelling and relatable way, you may want to consider posting some real-life customer success stories on your site. Not only will you explain exactly how your product or service can be used to achieve a particular goal, but you will also add an element of legitimacy to the rest of your site's content.

The SEO Advantages of Case Studies

Case studies can also work wonders for your site's search engine optimization (SEO). First, you will be adding pages to your site, and one of the rules of SEO is that larger web sites get higher general rankings (all other things being equal). If your case studies contain good keyword-rich content, including location and product or service keywords, this will help improve your traffic levels. And since you are sharing your client's success story, that encourages natural cross-linking, where you link to your client's site and vice-versa.

Choosing Your Case Study Subject

You will want to choose a customer with whom you have established a good relationship and who has provided positive feedback in the past about how you've helped them achieve certain goals. Ideally, this client will have come to you with a specific problem or challenge that you know other customers could identify with.

Of course, you need to have permission to post a customer's story to your site. Your story should not be about an anonymous customer, as that will make it sound less credible.

What to Include in Case Studies

Below are the questions you should answer in your case study to make it a compelling story for your readers, and to demonstrate how your product or service can be used to solve real-life problems:

  1. What was the customer's specific challenge or pain point? What obstacles were they facing, and how did this affect the way things ran on a daily basis?
  2. Which solutions did they consider? Was there a specific path they originally wanted to follow, and if so, what made them change their mind?
  3. How did they choose your product or service? What was it about your offerings that met their needs?
  4. Describe the customer's experience implementing your solution. Don't be afraid to mention any issues that needed to be ironed out before things could work well; this will add credibility to the story, and will be helpful to readers who may find themselves in the same situation.
  5. What kinds of measurable results has the customer seen since they started using your product or service? Don't just include numbers or percentages; explain exactly what those results mean to your customer (e.g., using your service freed up 20 per cent of staff members' time, which means they're able to dedicate that additional time to other, more important aspects of the business).
  6. What other related projects, if any, are they planning for the future, now that this one has been a success?
  7. What are the key lessons your customer has learned from the whole process of researching, selecting and implementing your product or service? What kind of advice would they give to others who find themselves in the same boat (other than simply: "Buy this company's product")?

Additional Tips

  • Write in the third person.
  • Stay away from marketing fluff and present facts in as objective a manner as possible.
  • As with any web site content, ask someone else to proofread and/or edit your story before posting.